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Posted on Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 5:26 a.m.

Intriguing and whimsical, Gallery Project exhibit plays with the idea of 'Creature'

By John Carlos Cantu


“Mammuthustyranahelikosaurus” by Arnold Patrick

Note: The exhibit closing date at the end of this article has been corrected.

There’s all manner of fanciful (and otherwise) critters at play in Gallery Project's “Creature” exhibit.

As is always the case with this most unpredictable of local art venues, the only predictable thing about the display is the fearlessness with which the Gallery Project coterie attacks the theme.

But there’s a particularly puckish sensibility to this show that makes it distinct from other Gallery Project exercises. It feels differen from what’s been on display before at this gallery.

As the display’s gallery statement says, the show explores an “endless proliferation and variation of human and animal life forms.” In other words, the show falls in line with the Gallery Project’s other philosophically inclined presentations.

Among these variations are “skeletal, mechanical, reptilian, botanical, invisible, furry, robotic, erotic, massive, tiny, passive, aggressive, fragments and hybrid—symbols of life that artists make to celebrate life’s daunting, dazzling layer cake.”

Yes, layer cake. There’s a sweet, heady subtext in “Creature” that disarms the edgier Gallery Project art.

The exhibit’s theme lends itself to a kind of qualified optimism. After all, the notion of “creature” encompasses the notion of living-being; and especially that of any animal whose border can range from the ineffable, imaginary, or fantastic—to the human.

This is the kind of stuff that Gallery Project does best. And such varied dimensions are to be found in the work of participants Heather Accurso, Ron Bell, Kristine Bolhuis, Sarah Buckius, Mira Burack, Tim Burke, Timothy Casey, Matthew Cox, Rocco DePietro, DMC, Iris Eichenberg, Norbert Freese, Laurie Hogin, Kelly Kaatz, Jeejung Kim, Mike Kelly, Joe Levickas, Ezra Livingston, Arnold Patrick Martin, Audrey Niffenegger, Frank Pahl, Gloria Pritschet, Tim Pewe, Terri Sarris, Chris Schneider, Deborah Simon, Emi Slade, Elona Van Gent, Karl Wirsum, and Bernadette Witzack. Heather Accurso is the exhibit's curator.

At one end of the artful spectrum is Madison, Wis. sculptor Arnold Patrick Martin’s “Mammuthustyranahelikosaurus.” This CAD (and seriously massive) honeycomb paperboard sculpture is both colossally life-sized and gallery-worthy. Suspended in the heart of the Gallery Project, this superbly realized, well-over-10-foot combination of mastodon, tyrannosaurus, and helicopter is an otherworldly creature that’s stepped out of its creator’s imagination to the gallery floor.


“Baby” by Matthew Cox

On the other end of the spectrum is Philadelphia mixed-media specialist Matthew Cox’s “Baby.” A wall-mounted 7x14-inch embroidering that’s been abetted with an X-ray, “Baby,” too, is life-sized. What’s jarring is the intimacy of Cox’s creativity because the child’s forehead and wide open blue eyes (set against a straw-tinted background) contrast sharply against the quite real X-ray that makes up its torso. "Baby" poses the question of what’s important—our internal or external appearance.

Local filmmaker Terri Sarris touches on the notion of creature in a different manner with her “Creatureville” video installation at the back of the gallery. Being a short documentary, “Creatureville” covers a season of her personal rescue effort saving the lives of abandoned local feral cats. There’s a sense of affection (as well as wry understanding) in Sarris’ explanation of her care for these animals. Rome has its Torre Argentina cat sanctuary; through Sarris’ work, we have our “Creatureville.”

The Gallery Project’s lower level once again features the single most intriguing artwork in the display. Wyandotte’s Frank Pahl has constructed yet another one of his inimitable interactive mixed-media installations that humorously sums up the exhibit’s theme. His hand-built electronic musical invention—supplemented by a snazzy light show where two profiles flash back and forth—“Creature Study” reminds us though repetitive sight and sound that we’re all essentially creatures of habit.

“Creature” will continue through Aug. 26 at Gallery Project, 215 S. Fourth Ave. Exhibit hours are noon-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; and noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 734-997-7012 or see the website.


Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

"Creature" will continue through July 15???

Bob Needham

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Sorry, should be Aug. 26. We've changed it. thanks


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 11:30 a.m.

It'll probably continue through AUGUST 15, not July; anyone seeing that will assume it's over and not go. Please fix ASAP. Also, how much is it?

Bob Needham

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Sorry, it should be Aug. 26. We've corrected that. It's a storefront gallery; there's no admission fee.